Opal Fruits, Princess Diana and... PowerToys? Microsoft is dragging Windows 10 back to '95

Desktop layout suite granted 2019 reboot

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With a nostalgic twinkle in its corporate eye, Microsoft has emitted a Windows 10 version of its venerable PowerToys suite.

However, those expecting something akin to the potential horrors lurking within the original will be disappointed. As promised back in May, the first two utilities in the preview consist of a window manager and a shortcut key guide.

The former, named "FancyZones", is a handy tool for users that tend to run multiple windows on a desktop in a preferred layout. The theory goes that a user can define a layout (or pick from one of the presets) and then have apps snap to their locations. It is a little confusing at first, something Microsoft has acknowledged with an instructional video that can be launched from within the app.

It is a neat toy, and we had a fun five minutes conjuring up all manner of designs before realising that FancyZones doesn't really like multi-monitor setups. It can be coaxed into life (you need to switch off the new layout editor in settings) but our take is that it is currently best for those users equipped with a hulking great screen.

While a shame, it is worth remembering that this is only a preview for now. Anyone who feels particularly strongly about the issue can make their way to GitHub and do something about it. Or just whinge apathetically like us.

The other tool is a simple shortcut guide, which pops up when the Windows key is held down. Think of it as Jen Gentleman (the Microsoft engineer who has made it a personal quest to educate the world on the lesser known Windows shortcut keys) in app form.

The guide will be initially fantastically useful to those unfamiliar with those shortcuts and, obviously, not much use once learned. Hopefully there will be some visual indicator for when new shortcuts are added and a shortcut manager to customise things is lurking in the backlog.

The utilities are available on GitHub as open source, and more are planned. A glance at the backlog shows incoming utilities such as a widget to maximise a window to a new desktop and a shortcut to kill a running process, both of which have a certain appeal. Other handy features seeking user support include a battery tracker to preserve the life of the usually-not-replaceable power packs.

TweakUI remains missing in action. ®


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